India to nearly double expenditure on health
New Delhi: Government Wednesday decided to increase its total health expenditure to 2.5 percent of GDP by the end of the 12th Plan, from the current 1.4 percent.
A high-level meeting chaired by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh also decided that the Planning Commission be requested to allocate adequate resources for the health sector to achieve the target, for which it could seek cooperation of the states.
During the meeting, convened on the direction of the Prime Minister and held at PMO, it was suggested that Planning Commission may motivate and incentivise states to allocate more funds for the health sector, for which it would work out an appropriate mechanism in consultation with the Health Ministry.
The Prime Minister emphasised the need for increased outlay to health sector during 12th Plan. He said, "though funds for the Health sector will not be a constraint, there is a need to create adequate capacity at the Centre and the states to meaningfully absorb the increased outlay."
With the Health Ministry working towards its goal of Universal Health Care, it was also decided that the Ministry may set up a Central Procurement Agency early for providing 'free medicine for all through public health facilities' under the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) and prepare Standard Treatment Protocols early.
The Cabinet has already approved the setting up of the procurement agency.
The meeting specifically focused on implementation of recommendations of the National Commission for Macroeconomics & Health (NCMH) and the High Level Expert Group (HLEG) on Health set up by Planning Commission and listed various measures, including bringing important bills and legislations, to be implemented soon.
The Health Ministry has also been asked to prepare a clear roadmap to merge all the NRHM schemes to bring them under one umbrella. "The merger may begin with the coming financial year and the process may be completed by 2013-14," the meeting decided.
Among the various measures decided at the meeting which the Health Ministry has been asked to specifically focus on is strengthening of primary health centres, community health centres and district hospitals to help provide cashless, hassle free out-patient, in-patient and diagnostic care and supply of essential medicines.
Ambulance services will be strengthened to provide access to health services to far off and inaccessible areas, it was decided.
It was also decided that work on establishment of National Centre for Disease Control may be completed in two years time and the Integrated Disease Surveillance Project may be strengthened with setting up of public health laboratories in districts and states.
The Ministry has also been asked to strengthen enforcement mechanism for drug control, for which it may examine the Drugs and Cosmetics (Amendment) Bill, so that it is introduced in Parliament soon.
To focus on prevention of disease and promotion of good health, the Ministry has also been asked to work closely with agencies dealing with social determinants of health like nutrition, safe drinking water, hygiene and sanitation and education.
The Ministry will also work towards strengthening of public health through creation of necessary human resources capacities at all levels and prepare an approach paper for induction of health managers and create a Public Health Cadre for inclusion in the 12th Plan.
It has also been suggested to build human resources for health by producing adequate number of doctors, nurses, ANMs and other paramedics, for which the Ministry has been asked to work towards getting the National Commission on Human Resources in Health (NCHRH) Bill passed by the Parliament early.
The ministry has also been asked to bring into effect and operationalise the provisions of the Clinical Establishments (Registration and Regulation) Act, 2010, which has been passed by Parliament.